Moving to South Korea: A 10-step guide
South Korea is an attractive place to live and work. The cities are exciting and the people are friendly and enthusiastic. South Korea has awesome culture and is a centre for new technology, which makes South Korea a popular place for international people to move to. This step-by-step guide will take you through everything from arriving in the country to starting your first job.
Step 1: Research the country and your visa options
Foreign citizens that wish to visit South Korea must have a valid passport and request a visa in a Republic of Korea embassy or consulate. Check out these websites for more information (http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/GK/GK_EN_2_1_1.jsp) and (http://www.mofa.go.kr/ENG/visa/application/index.jsp?menu=m_40_10).
Most visas expire after 90 days and to extend your stay you must register with the Foreigners Registration in Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Korea. It is a good idea to get all your documents authenticated or certified as appropriate and translated by an official translator. For more details click on these links (http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/InfoDetailR_en.pt?categoryId=2&parentId=382&catSeq=&showMenuId=374).
Step 2: Find Accommodation
Wherever you’re moving to in South Korea and whatever your budget, Room in the Moon can help you find a place to live. Visit our room listings on the website (LINK: link to accommodation page when it’s up) to find the perfect place for you to stay. Once you have an address, you can follow steps 3, 4 and 5…
Step 3: How to get around
If you want to travel between different cities in South Korea, you have several options:
Flights: If you’re travelling between regions, flying is often the quickest way to travel. You can reach most cities within 1 hour. If you wish to reserve your ticket the two principle airlines in Korea are Korean air (http://www.koreanair.com), Asiana airline (http://www.flyasiana.com).
Train : Travelling by train is another option and will take an average of 4 hours. The express rails are named ‘KTX’ and will dramatically decrease your travel time, with the express train to Busan taking 2 hours instead of the usual 5. To reserve your tickets go to this website. Mugunghwa, Saemaul trains, KTX-Korail (http://www.korail.com/).
Express Bus: If you are travelling on a budget, the express bus is your best choice. Journeys to the farthest cities will take 4-5 hours. Traffic on the highways moves quickly most of the time and there will be regular 15 minute breaks. To reserve your express bus ticket, go to the official website, Kobus (http://www.kobus.co.kr/web/eng/index.jsp).
Step 4: What you need to work
If you are a foreigner wishing to reside in the country, here are the steps you need to legalize your stay.
The first thing to do is to get an immigration card, which is required if you plan to stay in the country for more than 90 days.
The requirements are:
- 2 colour photos,
- Completed application forms,
- Attached documents per status stay,
- Fee of 10,000-30,000 won (Depending on your nationality).
The immigration card has validity equal to that of the visa.
For more information check this website (http://oneclick.law.go.kr/CSM/Main.laf).
Step 5: Looking after your health (Medicare)
1) Public Health Insurance: NHIS (National Health Insurance Services)
National Health Insurance Service (NHI)
National Health Insurance Service (NHI) is very good. Foreigners residing Korea can get the same medical benefits that native Korean people receive from the government, if they pay the monthly insurance bills.
If a foreign individual, who is registered at the Korea Immigration Service, satisfies the following conditions they can apply for the NHI to NHIC.
- Employee or employer of a business, which has employment insurance,
- An individual who is not covered by their own insurance or employment insurance, but possesses one of the following visas: : F-2, F-4, D-1~9, E-1~5, E-7~8, F-1 (Korean Citizen’s spouse and child).
Foreign spouses and children 20 years or younger are also eligible for medical cover.
Application Instructions and Required Documents
- A foreign employee with employment insurance has to submit an application and other documents to their employer. The employer is then required to submit all those documents to NHIC. Insurance payments are calculated from the first day of employment.
- A foreigner with self-employment insurance has to submit an application, alien registration card and passport to NHIC. Insurance payments are calculated from the first day of residence as registered at the Korea Immigration Service.
- For a foreign employee with employment insurance, payments are calculated with the insurance rate proportional to monthly pay. 50% of the insurance payment is charged to the employer and the other 50% is charged to the employee (deducted from monthly check). The insurance payments are calculated from the first day of employment.
- For a self-employed foreigner, the insurance payments are calculated with the insurance rate proportional to the monthly income. For an unemployed foreigner, the average monthly insurance payment of the prior year is charged. The insurance payments are calculated from the first day of residence registered at the Korean Immigration Service.
- For a foreign student, the insurance payments are reduced by 30% and the payments are due every 3 months ahead of time. But for individuals with F-1 or F-2, the insurance payments are charged monthly the same as Korean citizens.
The same insurance benefits for Korean citizens are applied to the benefits for foreigners. Regardless if a person is a foreigner or a Korean citizen, the co-payment that must be paid at a medical clinic or service by a patient is the same.
Amount charged to patient:
- Visiting a medical clinic or a hospital: 20%~50% of the total NHI applicable medical charges.
- Purchasing prescription drugs at a pharmacy: 30% of the total NHI applicable charges.
National Health Service Corporation [http://www.nhic.or.kr]
2) Private Health Insurance
Prudential : www.prudential.co.kr
Samsung Life : www.samsunglife.com/main.html
ING Life : www.inglife.co.kr
Kyobo Life : www.kyobo.co.kr/
If you’re moving to South Korea for first time, it is best to get health insurance from your home country for the first few months while you are sorting out you healthcare for the rest of your stay in Korea.
Step 6: Money and utilities
The currency in the Republic of Korea is Won(￦). ￡1≒￦1750(Won).
Notes come in 50,000,10,000, 5,000, 1,000 won.
Coins come in 500,100,50, 10 won.
Mobile phone and Internet providers
There are 3 major mobile phone and internet providers.
Internet use and its distribution is widespread in Korea. Most landline service providers have all-in-one landline, internet, television and mobile phone packages. There is also local cable television companies, which provide internet services with wide coverage. Internet service charges and the initial installation charge vary depending on the length of the contract and the service package.
Many companies provide handsets free of charge to customers who have an internet contract. In Korea, it is generally cheaper to call overseas using an internet telephone or a mobile telephone than a landline.
Resident alien or non-resident foreigners to visit the bank account can be opened. What foreigners living in Korea for more than six months, if stayed, and non-resident foreigners who have lived less than six months, refers to the case.
To open up a bank account in Korea, you will need to go to a branch with your passport or an accepted form of ID. Once you have opened up a bank account you can use you debit or cash card to withdraw your money.
An electricity bill is issued every month and is based on a monthly meter reading. The bill can be paid in the following ways:
- At a bank
- By bank transfer
- At a 24/7 convenience store
- By monthly direct debit.
Foreigners in Korea are entitled to a 20 percent discount on their electricity bill. To apply for this discount, visit a local branch with a foreign registration card and fill in the form. Foreigners must renew their electricity connection every year.
In some apartments the electricity bill is added to the management fee by the flat complex. In this case, new tenants or owners do not need to contact KEPCO to open a new account, or when they move out.
Many people in South Korea live in high rise or villa complexes, where it is common for all utility services to be provided by a regular supplier. In this case, there is no need to arrange the water connection when moving in. Monthly bills can be calculated as an equal division of the monthly total for the whole building or complex
Bills, which are sent monthly, can be provided in English and include information on how to pay, what to do if there is a leak, and the procedure to follow when moving house. Customers who read their own meter receive a reduction each month. Late fees are applied to people who do not pay their bill on time.
There are a number of domestic gas suppliers in South Korea. Connection and service information can be found by contacting the company that supplies the area. It is usually necessary to provide proof of identification and a foreign registration card to arrange connection.
Step 7: Buy some supplies
The cheapest way to shop for food in South Korea is at a mart. The prices will vary from mart to mart. The 3 major mart companies are: E-mart, Lotte Mart, Home plus.
If you don’t have enough time to go to the supermarket you can visit a convenience store. The prices are a little more expensive than marts, but you are paying for the convenience.
If you are over 20, you can buy alcohol in convenience stores and marts. The national beers and Soju are cheaper than international beers. Most international alcohol drinks and brands are available to buy, but will be more expensive than Korean drinks.
Step 8: Entertainment
There is the option of terrestrial television, but if you want more channels you will need to get cable television.
Step 9: Study Korean in South Korea
The Korean language is very different to English, especially the grammar, alphabet and word order. Even though it is difficult it is worth learning Korean, especially if you plan to live here for a while.
For more information about learning Korean in South Korea check out this website (http://www.studyinkorea.go.kr/en/sub/overseas_info/guide/guide_learn.do).
Step 10: Find yourself a job
Congratulations! If you have completed this list you have everything you need to start looking for a job in South Korea.
Make sure you have an-to-date CV. Follow this link to see an example of the correct format you should follow when creating your CV.(https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzKuaTO3sxObZUlRVkxRN3kzUHM/edit?usp=sharing)
It is a good idea to attach a photo along with your job application. First impressions count so make sure you are well groomed and smartly dressed.
Most companies recruit through the internet. Here is useful website if you are searching for job vacancies (www.jobkorea.co.kr).